Writing West Midlands has today announced that Kit de Waal, Liz Berry and Sathnam Sanghera will be joining the organisation as Patrons, alongside the current Patron Stuart Maconie.
Writing West Midlands – the literature development agency for the West Midlands – exists to support, nurture and encourage writers at a very early stage of their career, including young writers from the age of 8.
Writers from the region who have benefited from support from Writing West Midlands at a crucial development stage include:
- Liz Hyder, whose Bearmouth has been lauded as one of the stand-out Young Adult books of 2019;
- Liam Brown, whose first two novels Real Monsters (2015) and Wild Life (2016) were each nominated for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize, while his third, Broadcast (2017), has been published internationally and optioned by a major Hollywood studio;
- and Romalyn Ante whose poetry has won the Poetry London Prize 2018 and was joint-winner of the Manchester Poetry Prize 2017. Her debut collection, Antiemetic for Homesickness, will come out with Chatto & Windus in 2020.
The Patrons of Writing West Midlands help the organisation in its mission: supporting creative writers and creative writing, and making the West Midlands a great place to be a writer.
Between them, the Patrons have a wealth of knowledge in a range of areas of writing, including journalism, broadcasting, narrative non-fiction, travel writing, poetry, fiction, and campaigning for marginalised groups of writers such as those from a working class background or from ethnically diverse communities.
As well as programming and running the annual Birmingham Literature Festival, Writing West Midlands runs 20 young writers’ groups in the region and an online magazine through the Spark Young Writers project, and the flagship Room 204 Writer Development Programme for adults. It also runs the National Writers’ Conference in June every year in Birmingham, and a year-round programme of writing workshops, short courses and masterclasses to develop creative writing and writer skills in the West Midlands.
Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands, is thrilled to welcome the new patrons to the organisation. He says:
“Kit, Liz, Sathnam and Stuart all represent the extraordinary breadth and depth of creative writing in and of the West Midlands. We are absolutely delighted to be working with them and to have their support going into the future.”
Sathnam Sanghera, who’s been involved with Writing West Midlands for over a decade and was the 2018 Guest Curator for Birmingham Literature Festival (a project of Writing West Midlands), said:
“I’m proud of being a provincial writer, in the sense of being someone who focuses on life outside London. Being involved with Writing West Midlands allows me boast about how much great writing comes from my home county. We have David Lodge, Caitlin Moran, Meera Syal, Jonathan Coe, and even this minor playwright called Shakespeare.”
The new Patrons will be involved in Writing West Midlands’ work from December 2019 onwards.
For more information, see www.writingwestmidlands.org.
For more information, to request images or to arrange an interview, please contact Olivia Chapman.
Notes to editors:
Established in 2012, Writing West Midlands is the literature development agency for the West Midlands, supporting creative writers and creative writing. It is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. Writing West Midlands offers support to help writers establish their writing careers. It supports young writers as they develop their interest in creative writing. It runs festivals and events, including the Birmingham Literature Festival and the annual National Writers’ Conference. It exists to champion the West Midlands region as a great place to be a writer.
Kit de Waal, a Birmingham-born writer of Irish and Caribbean descent, is an award-winning writer and former magistrate. Her book, My Name is Leon, was published by Penguin Books in 2016 and was awarded the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2017 as well as being shortlisted for several other prizes. Kit released two more books with Penguin, Six Foot Six and The Trick to Time, and also established the Kit de Waal Scholarship to improve working-class representation in the arts by funding a Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck, University of London.
Liz Berry is a poet from the Black Country who now lives in Birmingham. Liz’s debut poetry collection, Black Country, received the Forward Prize for Best First Collection Winner 2014, Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award. Liz’s second collection is The Republic of Motherhood, for which Liz won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2018 for the title poem. Liz also works as a tutor for organisations such as the Arvon Foundation and Writing West Midlands.
Sathnam Sanghera, a journalist and author from Wolverhampton, whose memoir The Boy with the Topknot is based on his familial history and Sikh upbringing, was named the Mind Book of the Year in 2009. The Boy with the Topknot was also shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award and the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and was later adapted for TV and broadcast on BBC2 in November 2017. Now based in London, Sathnam continues to write and has released titles such as If You Don’t Know Me By Now and Marriage Material. Alongside this, Sathnam has been a judge for The Wellcome Book Prize and The Costa Book Awards, a former trustee for mental health charity Rethink, the chair of media charity Creative Access and a guest curator of the Birmingham Literature Festival.